In March, the Sherman launched the New Welsh Playwrights Programme to find the best of new writing from Welsh or Wales based artists. The Sherman was inundated with submissions and 14 scripts were chosen to be a part of the programme. The 14 playwrights are currently taking part in weekly sessions that will help develop their skills in writing for theatre, led by playwright Brad Birch (Royal Court, Sherman Cymru, Soho Theatre). The playwrights will be sharing their thoughts on the process. Here, Catrin Lowe talks about the process.
We are coming to the end of our series of sessions led by Brad Birch, who has been brilliant at stretching our abilities, giving advice and taking us out of our comfort zones in the most good-humoured of ways. The programme has neatly coincided with the most dramatic few weeks in politics any of us are likely to see in our lifetimes (as well as a blinding turn from FA Wales), so that each time we come together, it feels a little as though our brains are snow globes that have just been given a vigorous shake. Shutting out all that external hubbub to focus on sharpening our playwriting tools has proved therapeutic and has put our inevitable reflections to good use.
As part of our session this week, Brad set us a musical exercise. He played Mogwai’s Weak Force and LA Woman by The Doors and asked us to write in rhythm to the music, feeling its ebbs and flows and echoing the pauses, crescendos and hooks (I found the ballsy swagger of LA Woman particularly fun to respond to). He also played us a section from Basinki’s The Disintegration Loops and encouraged us to close our eyes and immerse ourselves in it as we thought about the lead character in our own piece of work. This way of using music as a driving force for writing is one that I found really effective and liberating. It puts an emphasis on the more intuitive, emotional side of crafting a piece of work. You plunge a little deeper into your unconscious and unearth curiosities that you had no idea were lurking there.
Being a part of the programme has been massively enjoyable and really inspiring. Everyone has been so warm and supportive of one another.